The opening line in Andy Thomas‘ “Simple Solution” hints at an obsessive, deviant and potentially destructive love: “There’s a small list of things that I wouldn’t do/To prove to you how much I care.”
Listen to the rest of the song, which features Dameon Merkl (Bad Luck City) and Ian Cooke, and you’ll hear a shadowy story of betrayal and lust, of murder and deceit, of blood on the barroom floor and bodies buried alive — a noir film if ever there was one. Fittingly, Thomas paired with director Adam Reynolds for a solid video for “Simple Solution” — off Thomas’ full-length “Wicked, Dark” — and the resulting music video is an artful homage to Thomas’ song and noir in general.
We spoke with Thomas about the Coen brothers-inspired video, his collaborations (current and future) and how he proposed to his girlfriend (and star of the “Simple Solution” video) Jen GaNun while on stage at the recent Denver Post Underground Music Showcase.
Question: The plot in the video is simple and somewhat familiar. Explain what’s happening in one sentence?
Answer: A man, blinded by love, buries the former lover of his current lover alive.
Q: You’ve mentioned the “Blood Simple” inspiration. Why that Coen brothers film?
A: I wrote a lot of songs about Coen brothers movies as a writing block exercise. In addition to “Blood Simple,” I competed songs about “Fargo,” “Raising Arizona,” “Hudsucker Proxy,” “No County For Old Men,” “Barton Fink,” “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” “Miller’s Crossing” and had ideas and parts of a few others. Those movies have such rich and interesting plots and also pretty abstract and somewhat hidden themes. “Simple Solution” was the most anecdotal and plot-driven song I wrote about, a retelling of an important scene in the movie. Obviously the theme comes out in the song, which is devoted and misguided love.
Q: And did the cast come together simply because that’s who you wanted to collaborate with on the song?
A: Bad Luck City has always been one of my favorite bands. Dameon isn’t as much of a singer as he is an amazing storyteller. After I had written the first draft of the song, I felt there could still be another angle of the story that could be told from the perspective of the poor schmuck being buried, and Dameon was the first person I thought of. He wrote his own parts and added a whole different, more sinister element to an already f***** up story! Ian Cooke was a no-brainer as a guy I wanted to play cello on the song, and I was honored that he agreed to be a part of the whole process. We filmed the burial scenes up at my parents house outside of Golden and, while I was digging the grave, I heard some rustling in the bushes, and Ian came walking out with this giant antler that he found in the woods. It was a pretty surreal moment.
Q: One person in that cast is your fiancee, Jen GaNun, who you just recently proposed to while on stage at The UMS. Tell us more about the proposal — how long had you been planning it, did she have any idea, were you nervous, was it the best day of your life? And also, what’s it like working creatively with the one person you’re most intimate with?
A: Best day of my life? Hands down! I felt like I was in a fog not only after but the entire time leading up to it. I really don’t remember playing the set at all, I just kept looking down at the setlist and seeing it getting shorter and shorter. I pretty much forgot there was a crowd there and just went for it. We’ve always loved The UMS, so it seemed like a fitting time to do it and will make subsequent UMS’ that much more memorable. Jen and I are just getting started in the collaboration process, but it’s been amazing so far. We did a tour together in May, and that was her first as a performer, and she killed it every night. Our next project, that we’re hoping Dameon will be involved with as well, is a concept album about a pack of wolves that lives outside of a secluded cabin the woods. One of the wolves (Dameon) falls in love with the girl (Jen) and decides the only way he can ever get close to her is to kill the man (me!).
Q: The bar looks familiar, but I couldn’t exactly place it … Where was the video shot?
A: Lost Lake Lounge! They had a fireplace and a creepy basement. It was perfect.
Q: And the song, what moved you to write such a dark song?
A: I’ve gravitated more towards a darker sound over the years. There’s a feeling of panic and apprehension that can be reached when you write music that’s a little sinister. Obviously I plan on keeping it going for a bit with the wolves project and my other band Blood Lines. But I think eventually I’ll stop writing songs that aren’t so damn creepy. Who knows, maybe I’ll have the wolf get into the house and become a loving family pet. There’s only so much blood one person can take.